Current research projects

VASI - Assessment of Learners' Views About Scientific Inquiry

The development of adequate views about the process of Scientific Inquiry plays an important role in Scientific Literacy. In order to assess students' conceptions in this area, the "VASI" questionnaire (Assessment of Learners' Views About Scientific Inquiry) was developed in the team of Norman and Judith Lederman (Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, USA). As part of an international study involving 32 countries worldwide, this instrument was used to collect grade 12students' views about Scientific Inquiry. In addition, interviews were conducted with a portion of the sample to gain further insight into student perceptions. In this follow-up project, the ideas and views of the Austrian sample will be qualitatively evaluated.

Current publication of the international study with the participation of the AECC Biology:

Project participants: Manfred Bardy-Durchhalter, Andrea Möller

Cooperation partners: Norman Lederman; Judith Lederman - Illinois Institute of Technology (USA); Selina Bartels - Valparaiso University (USA)

Influencing the learning of experimental competencies by through memory retrieval

Research on the acquisition of experimental competencies in science education usually focuses on learning processes in the narrower sense, i.e., processes of encoding content to be learned, whereas processes of retrieval are hardly considered. A cooperation of the AECC Biology and the Institute of Psychology and Diagnostics at the PH Ludwigburg (DE) uses the theories and findings of memory psychology in an interdisciplinary approach to experimentally test specific parameters of teaching experimental competencies in science education and to show whether a superiority of retrieval over other learning methods can also be found for skill knowledge, such as aspects of experimental competence.

Project participants: Johanna Kranz, Andrea Möller

Cooperation partners: Tobias Tempel - PH Ludwigsburg (DE)

Learning the control of variables strategy during in experimentation

In the context of an interdisciplinary and international project in biology (Univ. of Vienna, AT), physics (PH Freiburg, DE), chemistry (Univ. of Hannover, DE), teaching-learning research (ETH Zurich, CH), we investigate and model how students learn the control-of-variables strategy (CVS) during experimentation and how the domains are linked.

Project participants: Linda Hämmerle, Andrea Möller

Cooperation partners: Martin Schwichow; Martina Brandenburger - PH Freiburg (DE); Simon Christoph and Peter Edelsbrunner; Sonja Peteranderl - ETH Zurich (CH); Hendrik Härtig - Univ. of Duisburg-Essen (DE); Johanna Kranz - Competence Center for Climate Change Impacts Trippstadt (DE); Andreas Nehring - Leibniz University Hannover (DE); Lennart Schalk (PH Schwyz, CH)

Qualitative analysis of error types in science scientific experiments

Learners face a variety of challenges during experimentation.. In the study by Dr. Doris Schmidt (Forschend Lernen - Modellierung von Kompetenzen naturwissenschaftlicher Erkenntnisgewinnung [Inquiry Learning - modeling competencies in Scientific Inquiry]), which preceded this project, a practical assessment was developed to examine the students’ abilities and challenges when “conducting an experiment” .The present project follows on from this and investigates students’ experimental setups on a qualitative level, in particular with regard to the control-of-variable strategy, as well as their ability to recognize errors in experiments.

Project participants: Linda Hämmerle, Andrea Möller

Cooperation partners: Alexander Bergmann - University of Leipzig (DE)

LEFEX: Learning from (own and other people's) mistakes failure in the acquisition of experimental competenceexperimentation

During learning processes, errors occur.. In a positive error culture, these deviations from the norm can pose learning opportunities to build "negative knowledge" - the knowledge of how something does not work. This can subsequently prevent learners from repeating a mistake. Learning from errors can be distinguished into learning from one’s own mistakes (productive failure) and from others’ mistakes (vicarious failure).


Previous research has shown that when experimenting, learners have particular difficulties with the control of variables strategy (CVS). In cooperation with the Department of Educational Sciences at the Saarland University, we investigate to what extent learning from own and others' errors can be successfully integrated into science lessons and whether they are suitable for promoting experimentation competence, specifically the control-of-variables strategy. Thus, deeper and more differentiated insights into learning in the context of scientific experiments will be gained.

Project participants: Linda Hämmerle, Andrea Möller

Cooperation partners: Theresa Wilkes - Saarland University (GER)

Language-sensitive research Learning Inquiry Learning in the biology classroom

doing science <> talking science

The tension between everyday, educational and technical language is a central obstacle to learning in science classes, especially for students with German as a second language. In the German-speaking world, there is a lack of suitable diagnostic instruments for determining the level of technical language of students as well as of teaching models for science lessons that enable students to develop both in terms of content and language. This project aims to fill this gap by synthesizing science and language didactic approaches. The focus lies on experimental protocols that are produced during experimentation in biology classes. 

Recent publications of the AECC Biology on language-sensitive Inquiry Learning:

Project participants: Bernhard Müllner, Andrea Möller

Cooperation partners: Christine Heidinger, Martin Scheuch - University College for Agrarian and Environmental Pedagogy (Vienna)

Group dynamics in Iinquiry Learning in biology classes

Inquiry Learning is a specific learning activity in which learners simultaneously acquire learning content and scientific methods of knowledge through a process of scientific discovery. If the method of experimentation is applied, this is usually done in a school context in small group work, e.g. in the form of cooperative learning. However, group work often poses challenges, especially with regard to group dynamic effects.

In the “BioGeoLab” at the University of Trier and in the teaching-and-learning laboratory AECC Biology at the University of Vienna, observations and questionnaires are used to investigate, among other things, the influence of a targeted distribution of roles in small groups during Inquiry Learning in science lessons on activity types, intrinsic motivation and group dynamic processes in secondary 

Project participants: Katrin Kaufmann, Andrea Möller

Characteristics and predictors of hands-on activities in biology classes

As part of a large-scale observational study, this project examines the duration, frequency, and nature of hands-on work practices in biology classrooms. Between 2008 and 2013, pre-service teachers observed 2556 biology lessons in school, of which 762 (29.8%) included at least one hands-on method.


Preliminary results indicate that school type, grade level, class size, and space are significant contextual predictors of the need for future teacher, materials, and school development.

Project participants: Andrea Möller

Cooperation partners: Alexander Georg Büssing - Leibniz University Hannover (DE); Christian Dietz, Marc Grahmann - Goethe University Frankfurt (DE); Hans-Peter Klein - University of Vienna (AT)



Professional didactic knowledge Pedacogical Content Knowledge in the diagnosis of knowledge acquisition Scientific Inquiry in science education

For pre-service teachers in biology, but also for experienced teachers, the diagnosis of students’ Scientific Inquiry skills in science lessons is challenging. With the help of targeted observations of the teaching of Scientific Inquiry in the "BioGeoLab" of the University of Trier and the teaching-and-learning laboratory AECC Biology, the diagnostic skills of pre-service teachers are specifically promoted in cooperation with the "Bayceer Schülerlabor" [Bayceer student lab] of the University of Bayreuth (DE). With the help of qualitative survey methods, we look at the professional development of the pre-service teachers.

Project participants: Katrin Kaufmann, Andrea Möller

Cooperation partners: Franz-Josef Scharfenberg, Franz Bogner - University of Bayreuth (DE)